DuPage County could save $1 million per year by closing its juvenile jail and transferring inmates to Kane County’s regional detention center, County Board Chairman Dan Cronin asserted Wednesday.
Cronin and Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay announced a proposal Wednesday that would add DuPage County’s juvenile detention program to Kane’s facility, which already houses juvenile offenders from Kane, DeKalb, Kendall and McHenry counties.
Neither county board expects to vote on the proposal before Dec. 1, Cronin said.
Both detention centers are under-used: DuPage holds an average of 23 inmates in a 60-bed facility, and Kane holds about 48 inmates in an 80-bed facility. Combining the programs would reduce overhead and lower the cost of care per inmate for both counties, said Kane County Circuit Court Judge Keith Brown.
“The idea is economy of scale,” said Brown. “Together we’re able to do things that we couldn’t afford to do separately.”
According to DuPage County Board member Robert Larsen, it would cost an estimated $110 per inmate per day to house DuPage juvenile offenders at the Kane County detention center, as opposed to the $423 average cost at DuPage. While Cronin said the amount per inmate DuPage would pay Kane for the service has not been determined, both he and McConnaughay asserted that Kane County would save money on the transaction.
"As much as we love our friends to the east, Kane County taxpayers can’t be asked to subsidize DuPage County’s juvenile detention program,” McConnaughay said.
DuPage also would not have to make up the $400,000 state funding for its program that the Illinois Legislature cut from its budget, Cronin said, while Kane could use the increased revenues from accepting out-of-county inmates to make up its state-funding cut.
Though DuPage County would have to pay to transport inmates between the Kane detention center and the county court complex in Wheaton, Kane officials have volunteered to set up a videoconference room so that prisoners can talk with their lawyers and even attend court hearings remotely.
Officials agreed that adding DuPage to Kane’s regional detention center would enable both counties to improve prevention and intervention services that they credit for reducing the overall youth prison population. DuPage youth inmates would benefit because Kane’s facility is newer, better designed and offers more access to counseling and medical care than DuPage’s facility, Cronin said.
"I’m firmly convinced that our juvenile offenders will be very well-served by Kane County,” he stated. “They will get the best care in the business.”
Kane County Board member Mark Davoust said the plan simply appeals to common sense.
“It’s nice to talk about governments doing something smart,” he said.